Adam Rice isn't a stereotypical quarterback.
He's not a Peyton Manning-like guy who throws for 300 yards a game. He's not a guy with eye-popping size. He's not even a guy who has big-time stats next to his name.
Or does he?
Granted, the senior quarterback for the Rifle High School football team doesn't look like the most intimidating guy. At 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, he's actually not much different than the offensive linemen who block for him. And although he touches the ball on every play, there's only been one time this year when his pass attempts have reached double figures.
Rice, however, is much more than just the guy who takes the snaps from center and hands the ball off to Ryan Moeller, Kellin Leigh and Isaac Rider.
He's the Bears' general. He's their leader. And when things are going well for Rifle's offense - averages of 417 yards of total offense and a 43.2 points per game pretty much say it's been going well all season - he's the main guy to thank for it.
"We couldn't replace him," Rifle coach Damon Wells said. "What he does is irreplaceable. Our quarterbacks have meetings during the week where they're quizzed on different looks that we might get defensively, and Adam is instrumental to our success. He has saved us many times."
In other words, Rice is one of the Bears' biggest students of football who applies what he's learned on the football field. What he has learned flows right into Rifle's offensive philosophy, helping the Bears make the best use of what's available.
Of course, he's had quite a bit to work with this season.
One available player just happens to be one of the leading rushers in Colorado. Ryan Moeller, whose 276-yard rushing performance was instrumental in the Bears' 42-0 victory over Erie last Saturday in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs, has amassed 2,464 rushing yards with 35 touchdown runs this season. Leigh has 909 rushing yards and Rider - whose first touchdown of the season started the running-clock mercy rule in the fourth quarter - has 296 rushing yards.
None of those backs, however, would have had the success they've had without Rice. He's been able to survey the opposing defenses, evaluate what's in front of the offense and has switched plays many times, helping Rifle's offense run efficiently all season long.
"Most of the time, when one of us gets the ball, it's not by design," Moeller said. "A lot of times, we check out of one play to get into a better one. So if Isaac or Kellin got so many sweeps in a row, it's because it was going to work a lot better than whatever play we had called."
Even Rice, who is quick to deflect any accolades due to him, admits plenty of changes have to be made on the fly.
"A lot of times we'll see a team on film, and every week it seems like they bring out something completely different," Rice said.
Rice, however, hasn't been too bad throwing the ball, either. He's 29-for-56 passing for 518 yards and eight touchdowns, and his second interception of the season didn't come until last week. His biggest game of the year came on Sept. 21, when he went 8-for-10 for 107 yards and a touchdown in Rifle's 62-6 win at Montezuma-Cortez.
"When we've thrown the ball, we've had great success throwing the ball," Wells said.
Rifle has had a lot of success in everything it's done this season. Suffice to say, stereotypical or not, Rice has been one of the biggest reasons for it.
Jon Mitchell covers sports for the Citizen Telegram and Glenwood Springs Post Independent. He can be reached at (970) 986-2357, or by e-mail at JonnyMitch34@gmail.com.